So, Monday evening I was at the Southbank Centre and there I sat on the Clore Ballroom floor as I listened to Nikesh Shukla’s talk entitled ‘The Ethnic Writer: How to Avoid Labels’.
First and foremost it was great to hear Nikesh define himself as a writer and to be so passionate about his craft.
It struck me just how important it is to believe in what you do and in what you write.
We can all be pigeon-holed in some way (in this instance, as an ‘ethnic writer’), but who is to say that we have to accept this label or indeed conform to it?
In his talk, Nikesh Shukla spoke to us about how, because publishers are interested in numbers and selling potential, it is essential that you, as a writer, know how you want to sell your writing. As a writer you also have to be your own promoter and willing to work on your own marketing too. You have to be able to talk about what you have written and what the audience will get from it.
Of course, as a writer you want your writing to have a wider appeal and you strive to get your work published. The publishing deal is the ultimate aim, but as Nikesh Shukla said, it is important to find ways of raising your own profile and raising awareness about what it is that you do. This is where social networking could prove very useful. Maybe you could host an event to showcase your own work in some way? Or find your own ways of self-promotion?
As a writer, validation from sources outside of your own family and friends (even though that is a lovely thing too!) is important in order to help you realise that your writing can have a wider appeal.
So it seems that to all those aspiring writers out there, the message is ‘keep going’!
Persevere with what you WANT to write, as Nikesh Shukla said yesterday, “as long as the piece is well-written, there WILL be an audience for what you have written”.